The former Leeds United youngster netted the fastest goal in league history as the Red Bulls thumped the Philadelphia Union 4-1.
The 28-year-old forward netted the fastest goal in league history when he scored only seven seconds into the match, as he latched onto an errant Union pass off the kickoff before slicing through the defence and firing past goalkeeper Andre Blake.
The Red Bulls had also held the previous record thanks to Tim Cahill’s eight-second strike in 2013 but the Long Island-native has now etched his own name into his hometown club’s folklore.
“We come out pressing all the time and it’s usually just to put them under a little bit of pressure,” Grella told the club’s official website after the game. “But this time we actually managed to pick them off. I think it was a bad pass back and the centre-back just hesitated, so it was just me and him back there. I just took him to left and finished at the near post.”
Grella’s day was not finished there, though, as he followed up Bradley Wright-Phillips’ fourth-minute effort with another strike 13 minutes later to make it 3-0 and give him 10 goals on the season.
Left-back Kemar Lawrence would go on to add a fourth just before the break, as Jesse Marsch’s men clinched top spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of their final regular-season game at the Chicago Fire next weekend.
A victory at Toyota Park will now send them into the play-offs as Supporters’ Shield winners, which would mark quite a turnaround from the tumultuous situation surrounding the club during the off-season.
After losing both Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, as well as controversially firing fan favourite head coach Mike Petke, most expected the team to be languishing around the bottom of the East at this stage, but the likes of Grella have instead stepped up to help them shatter predictions.
The ex-Leeds United youngster’s impact has been particularly noteworthy given that he had been considering retirement before arriving at Red Bull Arena on a pre-season trial last winter.
Having previously failed to impress during a five-year stint in Europe and brief spell at the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks, the former US Under-20 international “had a job lined up in insurance and real estate”, but he has since turned around his football career in remarkable fashion after impressing new boss Marsch enough to land a permanent deal.
Establishing himself as the first-choice starter on the left wing, he has continued to wow supporters with his highlight-reel performances, while adding 10 goals and eight assists in 35 total appearances to keep summer signings Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gonzalo Veron on the bench.
There is even growing support for him to receive a first senior international call-up among American soccer circles, although the skilful wide man is just focussed on helping the Red Bulls claim a first-ever MLS Cup title for the moment.
“It’s awesome to have those things, but it’s more important to be on a winning team,” Grella added to newyorkredbulls.com. “I just thank God. It’s a lucky thing, a blessed thing. It’s a lot of hard work paying off and I feel blessed.
“Now all my thoughts are looking forward. I’m just looking forward to winning something with this team. We have this opportunity and we have to take it now.”